Are you following a dream or a goal?

Before you start reading, you should know that what I’m about to write may sound calculated, but it is not; it is self-regarding. Having goals may sound selfish or ambitious, or may carry some other feeling that many can find unappealing. But the truth is, if you set goals about the life you want to live and the family you want to create, you are more likely to advance your dreams in a positive direction.

Dreams are wonderful, and dreaming can not only help you begin to develop your goals, but can also improve your mood. When you have a dream, you should relish it, daydream about it, write about it, and share it with others. Put energy into your dreams and you may be open to new opportunities when they cross your path, or be more flexible about doing things you hadn’t considered before because you are feeling good. However, dreams can also be emotional, and if you don’t consider your goals, you may be less likely to achieve your real dreams.

How does this work? When you envision your dream, think about it in detail. What does your family look like? What values do you hold? How big or small is your family? Do you see yourself as a parent, or only as a parent of a genetically related child? How will the decisions you make now impact your life in the future? At the Center for Family Building, we help people think through these dreams every day. The more you can drill down to your specific goals, the better. This may necessitate some time and discussion with your partner as well.

Once you determine your ultimate goal, it may not look like the dream you initially imagined. I worked with a woman who initially planned to use an anonymous sperm donor. After some discussion about the research available, her family structure, and the goals she had for her future family, she decided she wanted her child to be able to reach out to his or her donor when he or she turned eighteen. This woman changed course and chose a sperm donor who was willing to be contacted.

I also worked with a man who found that while he thought he was comfortable with one child, he and his husband really desired a child from each of their genetics. They were able to discover this before their IVF cycle, and were able to fertilize eggs from their donor with both of their sperm.

After working with another couple for some time, they decided that their future child’s story was important to chronicle, so I helped them organize My Lifebook, and we also worked on a video series for their future child.

These people carefully thought through their dreams. They learned about the pros and cons of their decisions, and gave themselves some time to think through and challenge the implications of their gut reactions. Although this may sound like more effort, or yet another step to take when family building already seems so arduous, it can help you crystallize your goals so you can achieve more of the things that you ultimately want.

An added benefit to going through this process is that when you use reproductive medicine to have a child, there is so much that is outside of your control, and that can be very frustrating. Thinking about your dreams and putting some energy into developing actionable plans can make you feel good and productive, and that can feel very stabilizing.

If you have already built your family, this system can continue to work for you. Love your dreams. They are in your heart and need to be valued. But you can also use those dreams as a signal to alert you to thinking further about what is most important to you and your loved ones. Think about the long- and short term implications of your dreams, do your research and get good and objective advice from professionals who can help you see things that perhaps you have not yet thought about. Dreams are wonderful but they are not the end of your story. Use those dreams to begin to explore how they may manifest in your life and in the lives of your children, what they may mean to family and friends and how they may change over time. Use your dreams to set goals with your mind that will truly fill your heart.

If you would like help thinking through some of your dreams feel free to contact us. Our goal is to make your journey easier and better.